Darien girls lacrosse holds off Wilton to snap three-game losing streak
DARIEN -- Riding a sour-tasting three-game losing streak, Darien girls lacrosse didn't need any extra motivation heading into Thursday afternoon's marquee matchup with Wilton.
Playing in a light drizzle for the majority of the game, Darien edged rival Wilton 8-7 in a rematch of the 2011 FCIAC championship game, avenging its most painful defeat from a season ago.
After seeing its game-long lead evaporate midway through the second half, Darien's Emily Stein restored order for the Blue Wave by capitalizing on a Wilton turnover and burying her shot to put Darien in front for good at 7-6.
"They're a great team, and they beat us last year so we were really motivated to come back and win this year," said Stein, whose team fell 15-12 last June as Wilton captured its second straight title. "We were kind of down after our (9-8) loss to New Canaan, and I think this is going to send us strongly into our next games. We just have to keep it going from here."
Darien padded its second-half lead when Taylor Hardison scored her second goal on a wraparound to give the Blue Wave some breathing room at 8-6 with 5:10 remaining. However, that cushion was swiftly taken away when Megan Boepple scored her second goal of the contest less than a minute later.
After Darien netminder Caylee Waters stood her ground to make some difficult saves, the Blue Wave got possession with about a minute left and was able to play keep-away to run out the clock.
"At the end when it gets close like that it really comes down to who wants it more," Hardison said. "I think we've lost some of our past games because we saw that we didn't want the ground balls more, we didn't want the draw, but I think in this game we definitely did and that's why we were able to come out with a win."
Both teams were well aware that this particular matchup was highly likely to again come right down to the wire.
"It's always a close game with Darien. They're a tough team year after year and it's a tough fight," Boepple said. "I guess today our shots weren't falling, but we'll get them next time in states or FCIACs."
Hardison opened the scoring when she scored a wraparound goal just over three minutes into the game, and the Blue Wave doubled their lead a minute later when Brynn Gasparino beat Wilton goalie Vanesa Pagano.
Just prior to the midway point of the first half, the Blue Wave ran their lead to 3-0 when Hollis Perticone charged into Wilton territory and converted a short-range shot, but Wilton answered back a minute later on a goal by Boepple to get on the scoreboard at 3-1.
Darien got the goal back with 6:41 remaining in the half when Jena Fritts found Gasparino on a beautiful lob pass and Gasparino finished with another short-range goal. Wilton again closed the gap to two goals when Boepple found Casey Persall for Wilton's second tally. Less than a minute later, Darien extended its lead to 5-2 when Emily Stein received a pass from Hardison behind the Wilton net and buried her shot.
Wilton required just 16 seconds of play in the second half to pull to within 5-3 when Corrigan Serpa scored. Six minutes later, Wilton's Laura Knapp scored while falling to the turf to finally pull to Warriors to within 5-4.
Darien's first goal of the second half came courtesy of Stein who scored after taking in a pass from Fritts. Just over a minute later, Wilton's Shannon Quinlan scored on a penalty shot to shrink the Warrior deficit to 6-5, and 30 seconds later the Warriors drew even on a goal by Tegan Helms with 14:15 remaining.
"We tried to come in as prepared as we could be and execute our gameplan. I was really proud of the way we played, despite the outcome," Wilton coach Meredith Adamicki. "It was a defensive battle today. Both teams played great defense. We battled back and we just came up a little bit short against a really good team, so we're moving on."
Darien 8, Wilton 7
WILTON 2 5 --7
DARIEN 5 3 --8
Records: Wilton 7-2; Darien 5-3.
Scoring: W--Megan Boepple (2g, 1a), Casey Persall (1g), Corrigan Serpa (1g), Laura Knapp (1g), Shannon Quinlan (1g), Tegan Helms (1g); D--Emily Stein (3g), Taylor Hardison (2g, 1a), Brynn Gasparino (2g), Hollis Perticone (1g), Jena Fritts (2a). Goalies: W--Vanesa Pagano (10 saves); D--Caylee Waters (8). Shots: W -- 16, D --20